We’re only about half way through the summer and I’m already receiving Summer Reading Program forms back from kids that have finished reading 8 books and have chosen their free book from U.S. History Abroad. (It's not too late to join!)
Here’s the thing, and I should have said it from the beginning, but YES, audiobooks count too! In our family, we are rarely in the car without an audiobook playing so I want to share some of our favorites with you. Especially if you have young kids who may not be ready to tackle reading some of these titles on their own.
Do you prefer the downloadable pdf checklist?
To me, the 4th of July is the REAL kick-off to summer. I know, we’ve been having cook outs and late nights for a few weeks already, but for some reason, this week, the week that we celebrate the day when the Declaration of Independence was adopted by the 13 colonies, it’s the main highlight of the summer.
Many of our students live outside of the United and may or may not get to celebrate Independence Day on the 4th of July. Last month’s newsletter had some awesome ideas on how to celebrate the 4th of July while living abroad, but if you’re just now hearing about it, it’s probably too late to get all of the supplies, decorations, and stuff prepped for the activities. :( BUT, why not pop some popcorn and put on an all-American movie for the kids?
Use the link below to download your list of classic American movie titles that are available to rent on iTunes or Amazon Prime. Some are even available to stream on Netflix if you have a subscription. This movie list will give you so many ideas, you’ll be set for your movie nights for the rest of the summer!
In Course D for 3rd-5th grade students, I have an entire section on U.S. Presidents. By the end of the lessons, students will be able to name all of the presidents in order and provide a brief description of their accomplishments.
However, today’s blog post is for everyone! I'm going to give a little refresher on what the qualifications are to become president. These are all questions that elementary kids will know the answers to so I'm sure you won't have any trouble either. :)
What age must you be to in order to serve as the president? (At least 35 years old.).
Do you know who the youngest elected president was? (John F. Kennedy) and how old was he when he took office? (43).
There are also some pretty great benefits that presidents receive:
For example, the president travels for free, whether it’s in a limo, a Marine One helicopter, or flying on Air Force One. That is just “plain” awesome!
The president also gets secret service protection while they are in office and for 14 years after they leave.
Obviously they are living for free in the White House, but did you know that at the end of each month, the president gets a bill for his and his family’s personal meals and toiletries? It gets deducted from his annual salary.
What is the current annual salary for a U.S. president? ($400,000 a year while they are the president and then afterwards, they receive a pension of just over $200,000 a year, plus free postage for life.)
All these fun facts about presidents get me pretty excited to share this week’s freebie with you. You’re going to love it! I was able to license a U.S. Presidents poster with super fun cartoon drawings of each president. It’s yours to download for free for a limited time so click the blue button below to claim yours.
Once you've downloaded it, you might want to try to incorporate some learning games. You could ask your child questions like:
Which presidents were also Founding Fathers?
Who are our wartime presidents?
George Washington (Revolutionary War)
James Madison (War of 1812)
James K. Polk (Mexican-American War)
Abraham Lincoln (Civil War)
William McKinley (Spanish-American War)
Woodrow Wilson (World War I)
Franklin D. Roosevelt (World War II)
Harry S. Truman (World War II, Korean War)
Dwight D. Eisenhower (Korean War, Vietnam War)
John F. Kennedy (Vietnam War)
Lyndon B. Johnson (Vietnam War)
Richard Nixon (Vietnam War)
George H.W. Bush (Persian Gulf War)
George W. Bush (Second Persian Gulf War)
Barack Obama (Second Persian Gulf War)
Which presidents were former Secretaries of State?
John Quincy Adams
Martin Van Buren
Which presidents were born in log cabins?
Ulysses S. Grant
James A. Garfield
Chester A. Arthur
P.S. Were you looking for the answers to the email trivia questions?
- The only president who never married was James Buchanan.
- Whose grandfather had also been president? Benjamin Harrison.
- Who was the heaviest of all our presidents, at over 300 pounds? William Howard Taft
- Who was the shortest and lightest president at 5'4", 100 pounds? James Madison
- Who is the only president to have been divorced? Ronald Reagan
Have you ever considered that two very similar phrases: "Sweating like a horse." versus "Sweating bullets." mean completely different things? Idioms like these are pervasive throughout the English language and play an important role in living in the United States.
To ignore them means missing out on cultural nuances. Many idioms use metaphors or comparisons to make simple ideas more vivid. For instance, to say "You're making a mountain out of a molehill" is a more interesting say of saying, "You're exaggerating."
It's especially important for Third Culture Kids to be able to understand and use idiomatic expressions so that they can communicate with their peers and co-workers as adults. This is why our online courses introduce kids to common idioms used by U.S. based teachers, coaches, and other prominent role models in children's lives.
Take the quiz below and see how well you score. How did your children do?
Last week I shared U.S. History Abroad’s Summer Reading Program with you. If you didn’t sign up and get your printable reading chart, it’s not too late, but seriously, don’t wait any longer because the deadline to read 8 books is August 31st!
Today, I’m going to do a 180 and touch on summer screen time. This is another topic in which I feel like I’m all over the board. On the one hand I’m told, “Let your kids learn to be responsible with screen time. Be generous so that when they are older they don’t feel deprived and gorge themselves or become addicted to their phones…”
On the other hand I hear, “Screens are so bad for kids. Kids belong outside and it’s good for them to be bored all summer long.”
I’m a black and white kinda girl so it can be hard for me to find balance on the issue of screens, but it’s something that I’m working on.
And maybe I’m kidding myself, but I feel like as long as the kids are incorporating educational apps into their foray, then it’s not a total waste of time.
If you’re interested in my 12 educational app picks that range from learning a foreign language to spelling to math & logic games, and of course learning about U.S. History then be sure to download this gem of a freebie.
As a parent to three Foreign Service Kids, I feel like I constantly have an on-going debate in my head and I wonder... Are my kids missing out by living abroad? Now, logically I know all of the advantages this lifestyle affords our kids, but emotionally—I’m always torn.
Did I ever tell you about the time my dad visited just before we departed for Moscow? Long story short, he was worried that our kids would be deprived of consuming Happy Meals like normal American kids so he left us with $300 and instructions to take the kids to a fast food restaurant every week and to make sure they ate a Happy-Meal-equivalent at each place. So, to Wendy’s, Burger King, KFC, Taco Bell, and Chick-Fil-A we went!
That was just one of the times where it sorta hit me that the kids might grow up a bit out of touch with American culture.
Another time was when we returned to the States for the first time in two years. The kids were 6, 5, and 3 and I was looking at the menu at the McDonald’s drive through. I said to myself, but out loud, “Oh, they have Smurfs here!” That’s when our three littles started yelling excitedly “I want to eat a Smurf! Me too! Can I please order a Smurf? I’ve never had one.” I was like, “What are you Gargamel? Smurfs are not to eat!” And then when I showed them the little blue figurines, they were perplexed on why anyone would ever want one. Oh well.
Anyway, these are just some silly examples of why I sometimes question if we are ruining the kids with our choice of a Foreign Service lifestyle.
And, it got me thinking. What do our kids miss out on? Foreign Service kids don’t have a local library or Barnes & Noble that they can walk into and sign up for a Summer Reading Program! When I realized this, I was mildly horrified. A bit dramatic, I know, but am I the only one who LOVED turning in my summer reading slip and choosing a toy from the toy-chest?
The good news is, I realized that this is a problem that I can solve!
So, I present to you the Foreign Service Kids Summer Reading Program! It’s very easy. Read 8 books between now and August 31st and I’ll pop a free book in the mail for you! Your kids can choose from an assortment of fun and engaging U.S. History themed books. How simple is that? It’s so simple that I actually can’t believe no one has thought of it yet!
So use the red button below to help your kids sign up. There, you’ll also find a printable to help your kids keep track of the books they’ve read! I suggest you go RIGHT NOW so that you don’t get sidetracked and put it off until mid-July!!
There are many famous pictures and songs that children should be able to recognize. Students at U.S. History Abroad learn about these events and more through online American history courses.
Here are some more fun places to see and find adventure in the United States. How many have you already been able to check off your list?
If you are headed Stateside this summer, either for R&R or for Home Leave, you'll want to scan this list of historical places to visit!
Every child learns differently and it can be easier to teach any subject when you provide your children with different ways to learn about the subject. How would you teach your child about the Salem Witch Trials? Or the First Thanksgiving? One of the perks of the US History Abroad courses has been the care packages that have been sent out with additional learning opportunities for your child.
Filled with information, treats, and additional learning opportunities above and beyond what the course offers, the care packages are a treat for any child who receives them.
And care packages don’t have to be centered around an event. December’s care package focused on log cabins and the children shared their gingerbread log cabin creations for a chance to win a prize.
January’s care package gave the children the opportunity to learn about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers. Alongside an informative newsletter that comes with the care package, students received games, a calendar, and a mixtape. Children and adults alike retain more information when they are presented with several different ways to learn about a subject, so the care packages strive to hit all the major learning opportunities.
Parents and children alike enjoy the care packages. One mother said of her seven year old son:
Give your children the opportunity to learn AMERICAN HISTORY in fun and engaging online courses. Developing their love of learning will serve them throughout their life.
Motivating your children to learn can be a challenge sometimes. When children are required to study topics that they aren’t interested in, parents may be the ones responsible for making sure their children complete homework or retain the information the children need to pass tests or quizzes. But when learning is fun, education becomes easier. So how can you make learning history more fun?
Determine how your child learns best
Is your child an auditory learner or a visual one? Does your child learn by reading and writing or do they learn better with physical activities? Figuring out how your child learns best will save you time and heartache. Trying to force a child to learn a subject by reading and writing when the child is a visual learner will make the whole learning process more difficult and unpleasant for both you and your child. Use what you know about your child’s learning preference to make learning easy and fun for him or her.
There are so many different options available for teaching your child history so make sure to add variety to your child’s lessons. Include songs or books about history. Use maps, write stories, and give your child worksheets to fill out. Work with your child to memorize facts and use those facts to play history games. Let your children listen to podcasts or watch educational videos. There is no one right way to learn and adding different ways to learn keeps your child engaged and makes learning history more fun.
Have your children teach you
One way to make sure your child has enough of an understanding of the subject matter he has been studying is to have your child teach you. Have your child explain the topic he or she just learned about. Take the quizzes or tests your child has taken alongside of them (not for them, of course, but let your child administer quizzes and correct you if you make a mistake).
US History Abroad offers courses for grades from Kindergarten up through eighth Grade and beyond. Designed to be a highly interactive multimedia learning experience, US History Abroad offers students the chance to learn by watching short video clips, listening to songs, playing relevant games, completing worksheets, taking quizzes, memorization, map work, writing short narratives, and reading books.
US History Abroad is broken down into courses covering different spans of American history, as well as courses on politics, US presidents, and the judicial system.
Don’t forget that the State Department offers up-to-100% reimbursement for your purchase of US History Abroad. Once you complete your child’s registration, you will receive confirmation and a receipt. All you’ll need to do is submit that receipt to your post’s Financial Management Office and you will receive reimbursement in two-to-three weeks’ time.
“Fourscore and seven years ago” is the beginning of an iconic, albeit short, speech made by Abraham Lincoln in 1863. Do you know the name of that speech? Does your child?
Living outside the United States offers a child a myriad of cultural and learning benefits, but one thing they may miss out on is learning about the history of the United States.
“But why does my child need to learn about US History?” you may ask. “We are on assignment for the next two-to-three years.” Consider the future benefits your child will receive by having a strong foundation in US History studies.
Your child will not likely be living overseas for the rest of his or her life. Don’t you want him or her to be as prepared as possible to join his or her age-mates in school? While your teaching overseas includes basics like math and science, foregoing your child’s education in US History could lead them to feeling behind when they return to the States. You can sign up for a free grade-by-grade checklist on our website to see if there are any gaps in your child’s education that need to be filled.
Future Career Options
Assume, for a moment, that your child wants to follow in your footsteps and have a career in the government or foreign service. Many higher-level government jobs, including ambassadorships, require a good knowledge of US History. According to an article written by Jean Stratton for Princeton's weekly community newsletter, Former Ambassador William Stoltzfus Jr. didn’t pass his Foreign Service test until his second attempt (source). Ambassador Stolzfus reported that, "I was turned down because they felt I didn't know enough about the U.S.!" He recounted "So I studied some American history, and the second time around, I was accepted."
Not all children learn the same way. Some children might be auditory learners, some may be tactile learners, and some may be visual learners. Giving your child the opportunity to learn the best way for them gives them confidence and encourages a deep love of learning. The courses offered by US History Abroad come not only with lectures that will speak to auditory learners, but also with videos, songs, and interactive games. Allowing children the opportunity to learn on their own terms will set them up for success in their lives.
Added bonus: course reimbursement
Did you know that State Department families can be eligible for an up-to-100% reimbursement for any US History Abroad course? Once you complete your child’s registration, you will receive confirmation and a receipt. Submit that receipt to your post’s Financial Management Office and you will receive reimbursement in two-to-three weeks’ time. (You can learn more about education allowances here.)
Don’t let a concern about cost hold you back from giving your child the tools he or she needs to succeed in the future.
The courses offered by US History Abroad will not only teach your children the US History they need to know based on the Standards of Learning given by the United States, but will give your children tools that they need for a brighter future.
Recommendations for making learning more fun for Foreign Service Youth, while helping them remain academically competitive in the future.
By Alix Bryant and Ed Richards
Washington, D.C. – The experience of living abroad in a different country can often provide Foreign Service youth with a greater level of cultural enrichment and personal development. Having the unique opportunity to complete their K-8 education outside of the U.S. school system can also make those same students stand out from their peers back home.
However, there is one potential downside for those who study abroad.
The fact is this: U.S. history isn’t part of the K-8 curriculum at international schools. This means that today’s Foreign Service youth population will need to be brought up to speed before they continue their studies in the States. Educators say history is unique in how it teaches students to research and make better, well-informed decisions. Despite its importance, history isn’t known for being the easiest or most enjoyable subject among school children, even within the U.S. school system.
According to the latest tests compiled for the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics—a study designed to measure their knowledge of American history in the contexts of democracy, culture, technological and economic changes, and America's changing world role—only twenty percent of fourth-graders and just seventeen percent of eighth-graders perform at or above the proficient level in U.S. History.* This trend of low history scores trouble experts like Will Fitzhugh, publisher of The Concord Review, a journal which features the work of the young and gifted history scholars who represent less than one-quarter of the student population at large.
“Nobody is doing anything to fix it,” according to Fitzhugh. “History informs the present with lessons from the past and if you don't do any history than you are exploring without any background.”
There are several resources available to Foreign Service youth who are interested in reversing the trend of low history scores.
· Sonlight is a literature-based homeschool curriculum company that offers an American history instructor’s guide with lesson plans and fifty books. $479
· All American History Volumes I & II are student readers that are designed to be engaging stories contained in thirty-two lessons with hundreds of images and dozen of maps.
· International Connections Academy is an online private school where students can enroll part-time and complete grade appropriate history courses.
· Teachers.net allows parents to search for American history lesson plans and to teach their children on their own.
· U.S. History Abroad delivers a series of self-paced, online classes developed with Foreign Service youth in mind. USHistoryAbroad.com provides a quality supplemental American history education with a ten-week curriculum that adheres to the Virginia Standards of Learning (SOL) guidelines.
The SOL guidelines describe the expectations given by the United States for student learning and achievement in grades K-8 in American history. It also defines the framework that teachers are expected to teach as well as the specific knowledge and skills that their students are expected to learn. As a result, those who successfully complete their USHistoryAbroad.com course series (typically in as few as 10 weeks) are able to show proficiency in the subject matter that meets U.S. standards.
Though no official grade is given, participating students will be awarded a certificate upon completion. In most cases, tuition is 100% reimbursable. Visit www.ushistoryabroad.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org for additional details on enrollment.
*SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), 1994, 2001, 2006, and 2010 U.S. History Assessments.
Former Ambassador William Stoltzfus Jr. served many years in the Middle East, but it took him two tries to pass the Foreign Service Officer test. This is according to an article written by Jean Stratton for Princeton's weekly community newsletter, Town Topics. Ambassador Stolzfus was quoted as saying, "I was turned down because they felt I didn't know enough about the U.S.!"
That statement makes sense when you consider that Ambassador Stolzfus, a child to Presbyterian missionaries, William and Ethel Stolfzfus, spent his childhood in Syria and Lebanon until he was 15 years old.
" I was turned down because they felt
Families within the Foreign Service are expected to work and live overseas. Their children get to experience some pretty amazing things throughout their overseas childhood, but it's a trade off. American history is often not a course that is available in the host country, but it's an important subject that needs to be taught to American kids.
Online supplemental American history courses, such as the ones offered at U.S. History Abroad, make it easy for parents to provide the American history education that kids are receiving in American schools.
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